Florida bill would create mandatory filter for obscene material on mobile devices

A bill introduced in the Florida House of Representatives would make a filter for obscene material on your phone or tablet mandatory.

The legislation calls mobile devices “pornography vending machines in need of regulation.”

It could also end up costing you money.

The bill is aimed at preventing child pornography and human trafficking, and protecting children from adult material.

"How do we protect our children without injuring freedom of speech?" said Action News Jax law and
safety expert Dale Carson.


It would require the manufacturers of mobile devices that have internet access to create and impose the filter.
It's up to the manufacturers to decide whether material is obscene.

“Creating a bill like this, you arbitrarily give people in a position of power and authority – the regulators – the ability to determine what we as the public should know and what we shouldn’t know. And that clearly runs afoul of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Carson.

To deactivate the filter, you would have to request it in writing, prove that you are 18 or older and pay a $20 deactivation fee.

That fee would pay for grants for organizations that prevent child exploitation and human trafficking.

The bill would make it a third-degree felony to sell a device without a filter to a minor.

Selling one to an adult would be a first-degree misdemeanor.

Carson is skeptical that the legislature can impose these restrictions on manufacturers of mobile devices.

"I don't think we can force those companies. They simply wouldn't do business in Florida," said Carson.
Republican Rep. Ross Spano introduced the bill.

Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, Democratic Rep. John Cortes and Democratic Rep. Lori Berman co-introduced it.

The four legislators did not return Action News Jax’s calls about the bill’s First Amendment questions.